- 1. The early bird has the best experience
- 2. It’s gettin’ hot in here, so take off a layer of clothes
- 3. Save the safari fashion for when it’s really needed
- 4. Bring the right camera equipment (but don’t overpack)
- 5. Make your trip extra special
- 6. Remember that patience is a virtue
- 7. Listen to your guide at all times
- 8. Find the best time to go
- 9. Take your pick of accommodation
1. The early bird has the best experience
Setting an alarm clock for the crack of dawn is usually what we go on vacation to escape. However, on a safari, you’ll be itching to get up and go in the early hours of the morning. Sunrise drives are one of the most magical experiences you can have while on a safari. At the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, you can even float over the reserve in a hot-air balloon during sunrise.
2. It’s gettin’ hot in here, so take off a layer of clothes
Temperatures can sway from one extreme to the other on a safari. Those early morning drives (or hot-air balloon rides) will involve wrapping up warm. However, these experiences often stretch into the early afternoon, which — even in winter — can be quite hot. That means you’ll want to layer up and shed items of clothes when the temperature starts to rise. Did someone say zip-off pants?
3. Save the safari fashion for when it’s really needed
You don’t need to cram your suitcase full of camouflage gear if you’re taking a traditional 4×4 safari. You can pretty much wear what you want: the comfier, the better. But, if your heart is set on a more active experience, like a walking safari, you may want to try your best to blend in with the surroundings so as not to scare off the big cats. If you opt for a walking safari, make sure to bring a comfy pair of shoes so you can attempt to outrun a cheetah. Just kidding — nobody wants blisters while out in the bush!
4. Bring the right camera equipment (but don’t overpack)
Snapping the wildlife you come across can be a tricky task. You’ll often be viewing these magnificent animals from afar or as they speed past. For the best pics, you’ll have to swap your smartphone for a sleek, modern camera with a kick-ass zoom. Unless you’re a pro photographer, you no longer need high-end, bulky lenses. Today’s DSLR cameras and lenses let you travel light while still capturing amazing shots.
5. Make your trip extra special
You can customize your safari to make it a truly unforgettable experience. Sure, traditional lodge-based safaris still pack a wow, but there are also really wild ones that involve flying in a light aircraft to different camps. So if you want to ditch the 4×4 in favor of an adventure-laden walking, canoeing, flying, or luxury safari, go right ahead. You can also go it alone with a self-guided driving tour. These are perfect if you’re strapped for time as you’re in charge of the schedule.
6. Remember that patience is a virtue
A lion isn’t lurking around every corner. You need a whole lot of patience and a certain amount of luck to see the Big 5 and their friends. Although there’s no guarantee you’ll spot any of them, your guides have spent years studying these animals, so they know their habits better than anyone. If you’re getting frustrated with a lack of sightings, worry not, as your guides have a route in mind. It just takes a little patience.
7. Listen to your guide at all times
Being a mindful traveler while on safari is all about common sense. It’s important to listen to your guide at all times. They’re not just there to help you spot animals — they’re also charged with keeping you safe and ensuring you respect the animals in their natural habitat. Keep noise to a minimum, turn phones to silent, and never leave the vehicle without permission.
8. Find the best time to go
South Africa is the world’s premier safari destination, and you’re likely to see lions, elephants, hippos, and more no matter when you visit. However, your chances of spotting animals dramatically increase in winter (June to September) when the leafless trees mean hiding places are sparse. If you’re looking for a really wild experience, then head to the vast plains of Tanzania and Kenya in August and September to witness the Great Migration. Over 1.5 million animals venture 1,000 miles north in one of the world’s most incredible natural spectacles.
9. Take your pick of accommodation
From wild camping to luxury lodge living, there’s a whole host of accommodation options out there. It’s all about conducting some research and finding the right option for you. If you don’t want to leave the bright city lights for long, you can book a day safari. There are tons within easy reach of cities like Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.Plan your safari